Reporter: At the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue hosted by Singapore, Defense Minister General Phan Van Giang delivered a speech entitled “Strengthening defense capacity to safeguard the Fatherland.” Which messages did the speech, which attracted the attention of the dialogue’s delegates and received high appreciation from the public, convey, Colonel?

Senior Colonel Duong Quy Nam: After a two-year hiatus due to the complicated developments of COVID-19, the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue was held on the largest scale in recent years. The dialogue attracted some 500 delegates who were governmental officials, defense-security officials, diplomats, defense-security experts from over 40 countries and territories worldwide.

At the plenary session named “Military modernization and new defense capabilities,” Vietnamese Defense Minister General Phan Van Giang delivered a speech under the theme “Strengthening defense capacity to safeguard the Fatherland.”

Senior Colonel Duong Quy Nam

As a member of the delegation of the Vietnamese Defense Ministry to the dialogue, I realized that delegates paid due attention to the participation of the Vietnamese delegation.

The Vietnamese delegation’s active and pro-active participation in the dialogue, especially General Giang’s speech at the event once again confirmed Vietnam’s role and high sense of responsibility in regional and international issues. It also demonstrated the spirit of the resolution adopted at the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam on “Active and pro-active participation in multilateral defense and security mechanisms according to new thinking on Fatherland protection,” and realized the direction of Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the National Conference on Foreign Affairs in implementation of the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress.

When General Giang talked about improvement of defense capability and military modernization, many researchers and scholars must have thought about procurement of materiel and an arms race. However, Defense Minister Giang’s speech conveyed a message of peace-building and confirmed that Vietnam's national defense is the all people’s defense posture which is peaceful and self-defense in its nature; active, proactive, resolute and persistent in preventing and repulsing the risks of war.

Regarding the content and messages delivered in General Giang’s speech, Dr. John Chipman, Director General and Chief Executive of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) emphasized that Vietnam’s viewpoint contributed to controlling arms races in the world in the context that the region and world are facing a rapidly-changing and unpredictable security environment.

It can be seen that right from the title of the speech, it shows the peace-loving spirit of Vietnam. Vietnam has raised its defense capacity to protect the Fatherland, peace, and people's well-being and happiness. This confirms the consistent stance of the Vietnamese Party, State and People's Army on military modernization according to the teaching of President Ho Chi Minh which reads "We must strive to build our military to be a powerful people's army, a revolutionary, standardized and modernized military to uphold peace and safeguard the Fatherland."

The content of the speech also clearly stated the objective inevitability of strengthening defense capacity to protect the Fatherland; emphasized the goal of strengthening Vietnam's defense potential to be peace and self-defense. This has been confirmed throughout Vietnam’s history of national building and protection.

The defense minister's speech continued to affirm the standpoint on promoting the national synergy in national construction and defense, including the strength of the whole military, people, and political system; comprehensive strength of political, spiritual, economic, scientific and technological potential; and not purely the enhancement of military strength. There have been many positive reviews on this point of view, saying that Vietnam's defense policy has aroused and taken advantage of the synergy of the whole country.

Vietnam's policy of military modernization aims to not only modernize the armed forces, but also serve civilian purposes through "developing a modern, dual-use defense industry" on the basis of attaching importance to personnel and Vietnamese military strategy and theory development.

In the rapidly-developing globalization trend, Vietnam wishes to enhance and expand defense cooperation, strengthen dialogues, and build strategic trust with other countries to jointly address common security challenges on the basis of respecting each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and in accordance with basic principles of international laws.

The defense minister's speech created positive spillover effects, conveying the message of a friendly, peace-loving, responsible Vietnam in international cooperation and that Vietnam is a friend, a reliable partner of countries in the region and the world.

Reporter: In his speech at the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue, Defense Minister Phan Van Giang underlined that Vietnam’s national defense is the all-people’s defense posture with peace and self-defense in its nature and strengthening defense potential is to protect the Fatherland. Could you please clarify the connotation of the defense minister’s message?

Senior Colonel Duong Quy Nam: Vietnam has undergone many self-defense wars, so it understands the value of peace, is willing to uphold peace and resolve problems to keep peace. Therefore, building an all-people’s defense posture with peaceful and self-defense nature is the strategic policy of the Party and State of Vietnam in order to promote defense strength and firmly protect the Fatherland in all situations.

At the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue, Defense Minister Phan Van Giang emphasized that Vietnam maintains the all-people’s defense posture with peace and self-defense in its nature and strengthening defense potential is to protect the Fatherland. This shows the Party's consistent stance in the national construction and defense cause.

The characteristic of Vietnam's national defense is the defense posture of all people, which mobilizes and relies on the synergy of the whole nation in all aspects including political affairs, economy, diplomacy, military, culture, science, technology and more to create comprehensive strength for the national construction and protection cause. Historical practice has proven that the all-people’s defense posture has brought about important achievements, thereby firmly defending the Fatherland, and at the same time raising Vietnam's position and prestige in the international arena.

Vietnam's defense policy aims at peace, self-defense, and national protection. This has been clearly stated in the Party’s documents, and concretized in Vietnam’s National Defense White Paper. Vietnam advocates strengthening defense capability with its own internal strength, conditions and capability, not participating in military alliances, not affiliating with one country to oppose another country, and not allowing foreign countries to establish military bases or use Vietnamese territory to fight against other countries, not using force or threatening to use force in international relations. About disputes and disagreements, Vietnam advocates settlement by peaceful means on the basis of international laws.

The defense minister affirmed to its friends and partners that the goal of Vietnam's strengthening of defense potential and military modernization such as procurement, development of weaponry and equipment, training and improvement of capacity for the armed forces is to protect the Fatherland and peace, and provide a stable environment for national socio-economic development, and contribute to the world's trend of peace, cooperation and development.

The viewpoint of building a politically- and spiritually-strong people’s army; building a defense industry that serves both military purposes and the people's needs with dual-use technologies and products; meeting the requirements of strengthening defense capabilities, and fulfilling Fatherland protection duties once again affirms the connotation of the all-people’s defense posture with peace and self-defense in its nature.

Reporter: In the context that non-traditional security issues have been occurring more and more with more severe consequences, requiring the cooperation and contribution of the international community, what do these messages mean for security, peace and stability in the region?

Senior Colonel Duong Quy Nam: The world has been facing great challenges from non-traditional security issues with increase in frequency, unpredictable impacts and especially serious consequences. This can be seen very clearly after more than two years of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change-caused natural disasters that countries, including Vietnam, have already experienced.

In a world of increasing interdependence in security, in which one issue cannot be resolved by a single country, Defense Minister Phan Van Giang, in his speech, once again affirmed the role of defense forces of countries in contributing and mobilizing resources to effectively deal with common security challenges, including non-traditional security challenges, instead of an arms race that consumes national resources.

The defense minister stated that with the pivotal role in building the all-people’s defense posture, the Vietnam People's Army takes the lead in responding to various non-traditional security challenges, especially in search and rescue, natural disaster and COVID-19 prevention and control and in sending forces to take on U.N. peacekeeping missions.

By early this year, Vietnam has sent 76 officers to U.N. missions in South Sudan, Central African Republic and UNISFA; dispatched 189 medical personnel of the level-two field hospitals to the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). This is a clear demonstration of Vietnam's sense of responsibility, joining hands to create and maintain regional and world peace.

Therefore, with the message that Vietnam is working together with other countries to protect peace, Defense Minister Phan Van Giang wanted to affirm the country’s standpoint and wished that countries strengthen dialogues, build trust, and promote cooperation on a bilateral and multilateral basis to jointly find solutions to current and increasingly-severe global challenges.

Reporter: Thank you very much!

Translated by Mai Huong